The IRS “Scandal” Was A Set-Up

I have been writing about the so-called IRS “scandal.” It turns out the whole thing was a set-up from the start. Republicans told the Inspector General to make it look like only conservative groups received scrutiny from the IRS, but all groups received the normal scrutiny. And no one was “targeted” for “extra scrutiny.”

In the post The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives I noted that the original IG report only focused on the use of names like “Tea Party” and did not say if “progressive”-sounding names were checked.

According to the report, the swamped IRS group involved in this came up with ways – “criteria” – to identify groups that really needed to be checked further because it was possible they might be engaged in the kind of political activity that would exclude them from getting the special tax status. … Some groups were chosen to receive the required scrutiny because they had “political-sounding” names. Some of the “political-sounding names” included the words “tea party.” Others included “We the People” and “Take Back the Country.” (The inspector general’s report does not disclose if or which other “political sounding names” were also used as criteria.)

And now we know that groups with “liberal-sounding names” were also checked. NY Times, Documents Show Liberals in I.R.S. Dragnet,

The instructions that Internal Revenue Service officials used to look for applicants seeking tax-exempt status with “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their titles also included groups whose names included the words “Progressive” and “Occupy,” according to I.R.S. documents released Monday.

The documents appeared to back up contentions by I.R.S. officials and some Democrats that the agency did not intend to single out conservative groups for special scrutiny.

Again, the whole scandal was because the name “Tea Party” was one of the names used to identify potential political groups, meaning they should not get special tax status. “The inspector general’s report does not disclose if or which other “political sounding names” were also used as criteria.” But what really happened was that all groups applying for special tax status are supposed to be checked. The IRS was swamped with applicants after Citizens United, and underfunded, so they had to let some groups off from the usual scrutiny, and came up with shortcuts to look for potential political groups that should not receive the special tax status. That’s the whole “scandal” — not that some groups received “extra” scrutiny or were “targeted” but that some groups didn’t receive normal scrutiny while political-sounding groups got the normal scrutiny.

Here is why the inspector general’s report did not disclose whether other groups were scrutinized (never say “targeted.”):

The Hill: IG: Audit of IRS actions limited to Tea Party groups at GOP request

The Treasury inspector general whose report helped drive the IRS targeting controversy says it limited its examination to conservative groups because of a request from House Republicans.

A spokesman for Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, said they were asked – by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) – “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.”

Got that? Republicans told the IG to limit it to conservaitve sounding names, and then when the IG report only mentioned conservative-sounding names, they blasted out this “scandal” to the media.

It was a set-up from the start. And the media completely fell for it. If you hear anyone say that “the IRS targeted conservatives” please let them know this is not what happened — not at all.

See also:

The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives

The Latest Lie: “IRS Targeting Was Broader Than Thought”

—–

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

m4s0n501

So IRS DIDN’T “Target Conservative Groups” After All

Yep, we were “O’Keefed” again. It turns out that the IRS really was just doing its job — scrutinizing all kinds of groups applying for special tax status, not “targeting conservatives” as has been widely reported. Of course anti-government scandal-mongers are trying to make this sound bad, saying this means the “targeting” was “broader” than first thought. That’s like saying people are “targeted” to pay their taxes on April 15. Anyway the “scandal’s” purpose was achieved: the IRS is going to give corporate-funded political groups a pass now and let them “self-certify” that they aren’t breaking the rules.

Scandal Frenzy

Back in May the media was in a scandal frenzy, echoing a right-wing lie that the IRS was “targeting conservative groups” that applied for special tax status. The NY Times even claimed that “audits” were going on, as part of the “Internal Revenue Service’s effort to target conservative non-profit groups for scrutiny.”

But anyone who actually spent the time to read the official report on this “scandal” would have learned that was just not what happened. The IRS is supposed to scrutinize all groups applying for special tax status to make sure they are not violating tax rules by engaging in political activity. Because of Citizens United and typical underfunding the IRS couldn’t check every group so they tried to find shortcuts to pick potential political groups. ne of those shortcuts involved looking for political sounding names of organizations. That is the entire “scandal” – they let some groups out of the usual scrutiny, but still looked for groups that might be engaged in politics.

The Original Report Said No Scandal, Too

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report titled Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review made it clear that there was no “targeting.” In the report was a chart showing that ony 1/3 of the scrutinized groups were conservative, saying

“According to the Director, Rulings and Agreements, the fact that the team of specialists worked applications that did not involve the Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 groups demonstrated that the IRS was not politically biased in its identification of applications for processing by the team of specialists.”

It was right there in the report.

In my May post on this, The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives, I pointed out,

The inspector general’s report does not disclose if or which other “political sounding names” were also used as criteria.

Conservatives NOT Targeted

It took two months, but now we know for a fact that “liberal” names were also used.

NY Times, Documents Show Liberals in I.R.S. Dragnet,

The instructions that Internal Revenue Service officials used to look for applicants seeking tax-exempt status with “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their titles also included groups whose names included the words “Progressive” and “Occupy,” according to I.R.S. documents released Monday.

The documents appeared to back up contentions by I.R.S. officials and some Democrats that the agency did not intend to single out conservative groups for special scrutiny.

New Lie: “Scandal” Was “Wider” and “Broader”

So … no “targeting” and no scandal. And no “broadening” of the scandal, as the corporate media is now trying to claim.

From an AP report on the disclosure that conservative groups were not targeted:

The Internal Revenue Service’s screening of groups seeking tax-exempt status was broader and lasted longer than has been previously disclosed, the new head of the agency acknowledged Monday.

Interestingly, the AP report insists this was part of “the IRS targeting of conservative groups”:

The lists were dated between August 2010 and April 2013 — the month before the IRS targeting of conservative groups was revealed.

They just can’t let go of “IRS targeted conservatives,” it’s like their brains are wired to say that.

Corporate Conservatives Get Their Way Anyway

But the truth doesn’t matter. The fact that there was no “targeting of conservative groups” doesn’t mean that conservatives don’t get their way. Even though the whole “ACORN scandal” turned out to just be a lie, Congress defunded ACORN anyway. Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod were both fired after right-wing media launched smear and lie campaigns. And this time the administration immediately caved to the right and fired the head of the IRS. This of course amplified the right’s “targeted conservatives” accusations and whipped the media into a full-blown scandal frenzy.

And the clincher: the IRS has issued new rules, offering corporate-funded political groups a “fast track” to getting their special tax status.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy explains, in IRS Offers Fast-Track for Advocacy Groups Awaiting Tax Exemptions. All they have to do is self-certify that they won’t break the rules, and Bob’s your uncle.

Organizations that have applied to the IRS for status as social-welfare groups but have faced inordinate delays because of the political scrutiny that engulfed the tax agency in controversy now have recourse: They can win tax-exempt status within two weeks if they pledge not to devote more than 40 percent of their time and money to partisan activities.

The IRS announced the streamlined process on Monday as part of its 83-page report, shown below, on how the agency is overhauling its process for reviewing applications for tax-exempt status. By setting the 40-percent marker, the organization for the first time was explicit about how much advocacy is acceptable for a group that has 501(c)(4) status.

So they win.

—–

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

New Smears

From Drudge:

“Two of John Kerry’s three Purple Heart decorations resulted from self-inflicted wounds, not suffered under enemy fire.

All three of Kerry’s Purple Hearts were for minor injuries, not requiring a single hour of hospitalization.

A ‘fanny wound’ was the highlight of Kerry’s much touted ‘no man left behind’ Bronze Star.

Kerry turned the tragic death of a father and small child in a Vietnamese fishing boat into an act of ‘heroism’ by filing a false report on the incident.

Kerry entered an abandoned Vietnamese village and slaughtered the domestic animals owned by the civilians and burned down their homes with his Zippo lighter.

Kerry’s reckless behavior convinced his colleagues that he had to go — becoming the only Swift Boat veteran to serve only four months. “

This is how Republicans campaign. They keep throwing mud — lies — until some sticks. Smears, lies, and psychological manipulation. This is called vote suppression. They’re trying to get people to say “I can’t vote for either of them” and not show up at the polls.

Ignore these trees. Don’t take your eyes off the forest — the big picture. Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam and is a decorated war hero. Bush’s daddy got him into the “champagne unit” of the National Guard and he STILL took off, didn’t show up.